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PROLOGUE                                 5

God really intend her to be a first-class nation? Or is she
merely "Mother Earth's miscarriage"?

Once she had a destiny. Once she was a conqueror. Now
her greatest destiny seems to be merely to exist, to survive,
and one cannot but have faith in her ability to do so, when
one remembers how she has survived the ages, after the beauty
that was Greece and the glory that was Rome are long van-
ished, remembers how she has ground and modelled foreign
truths into her own likeness and absorbed foreign races into
her own blood. This fact of her survival, of her great age, is
evidently something worth pondering upon. There is some-
thing due an old nation, a respect for hoary old age that should
be applied to nations as to individuals. Yes, even to mere old
age, even to mere survival.

For whatever else is wrong, China has a sound instinct for
life, a strange supernatural, extraordinary vitality. She has
led a life of the instinct; she has adjusted herself to economic,
political and social environments that might have spelled
disaster to a less robust racial constitution; she has received
her share of nature's bounty, has clung to her flowers and
birds and hills and dales for her inspiration and moral support,
which alone have kept her heart whole and pure and prevented
the race from civic social degeneration. She has chosen to live
much in the open, to bask in the sunlight, to watch the evening
glow, to feel the touch of the morning dew and to smell
the fragrance of hay and of the moist earth; through her
poetry, through the poetry of habits of life as well as through
the poetry of words, she has learned to refresh her, alas! too
often wounded, soul. In other words, she has managed to
reach grand old age in the same way as human individuals do
by living much in the open and having a great deal of sunlight
and fresh air. But she has also lived through hard times,
through recurrent centuries of war and pestilence, and through
natural calamities and human misrule. With a grim humour
and somewhat coarse nerves, she has weathered them all, and
somehow she has always righted herself. Yes, great age, even
mere great age, is something to be wondered at*

Now that she has reached grand old age, she is beyond
bodily and spiritual sorrows, and one would have thought, at